This Old House

    You can become part of God’s called out ones. Believe, become a disciple of Jesus, a follower, a         learner of his ways, it is a path that leads to whole and lasting life. Ask God to accept your belief         and your willingness to be a follower of Jesus. Today you can become a member of the Church.
     But before you do, count the cost, for you will be asked to walk the journey of self-sacrifice,
     the loss of one’s own life in order to live life to the full. 

This Old House

Long before Chip and Joanna Gaines made the show “Fixer Upper” famous there was a show called “This Old House.” It started airing in 1979 and you can still get all kinds of Do It Yourself, hands on tips and tricks for remodeling, renovating and revising a house on their website. Does the name Bob Villa ring a bell?

The creative genius behind this show is Russel Morash. As he was designing and renovating his own 19th century home. He wanted to help other people do what he could do. But he also wanted to jumpstart others’ imagination and innovation. He dreamed of encouraging people to draw upon their own creative potential! He wanted to help people learn and discover ways of making the house of their choice into a unique reflection both of owner identity and the style of a certain “place and space.” He didn’t just want to show people the nuts and bolts of renovation. He wanted to, as he puts it, “expand the viewers’ perceptions of what a home can be.”

The result? The show launched a new genre of programming that won 18 Emmy Awards and I am sure you’ve seen at least one of the many types of spin offs This Old House created. There’s a whole cable channel dedicated to fixing and flipping and fabulizing homes.

On the website for This Old House is an article with a headline: An 18th Century Starter House Saved From Ruin, with the buy line:  “This crumbling Colonial cottage wasn’t built to last forever. But one determined homeowner has made it his mission to see that it will.” Brooks Banker saw something in that old house and said nope, I love this, I am going to do what it takes to see this place restored into what a home can be.

Passion and purpose create commitment and excitement! We could be talking about the Church! I think I will.

The Church is not a facility, a sanctuary, a holy place. Its people. The word actually means the called-out ones. The Church is comprised of the people that have responded to God’s call to reconciliation. Are you part of the Church? Last week we considered John 3:16 and 17 in hopes of becoming Jesus Whisperers. These two verses of scripture tell us to believe and God takes care of the rest. What we are to believe is that God loves us so much, that Jesus, God incarnate, sacrifices himself to reconcile our estrangement due to original sin so that we can be made right again.
John 3:16-17 (MSG)
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

Today you can become part of God’s called out ones. Believe, become a disciple of Jesus, a follower, a learner of his ways, it is a path that leads to whole and lasting life. Ask God to accept your belief and your willingness to be a follower of Jesus. Today you can become a member of the Church. But before you do, count the cost, for you will be asked to walk the journey of self-sacrifice, the losing of one’s own life in order to live life to the full.

The Church is people. The Apostle Peter wrote:
1 Peter 2:4-5 (NIV)
As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

The word picture here is of the Church, a spiritual house, the people who are called out of this world into the Kingdom of God, are like stones laid to build a spiritual house. Believers, you and I are that spiritual house. Our individual lives have a place in that house. For the house to be livable the materials have to be quality.

Jesus is the ultimate Designer and Blueprint for this spiritual house we call the church. For the lives which comprise the church. He is the foundation the cornerstone and the cap stone. The first and the last. He’s put down the down payment on the House.

1 Peter 2:6 (MSG)
Look! I'm setting a stone in Zion, a cornerstone in the place of honor. Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation will never have cause to regret it.

1 Peter 2:7 (NIV)
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. …. "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.

Jesus is the beginning and the end, the start and the finish. In Jesus there is the blueprint for Eternal Life. And He’s asked us to join Him on an awesome and challenging mission –to repurpose lives, build bridges of communication, connect people in love, beautify relationships, install windows to the world, restore hearts to God, He calls us out to be His Church.

Home remodeling takes time, dedication, imagination, and a lot of faith. Life remodeling does too. Don’t let anyone fool you, even the smallest jobs can take maximum effort.  But Jesus will be working right beside you. He is your “go-to” master craftsman who knows how to revision, re-mission, re-beautify life!

As a believer you are one of the called-out ones, set aside for God’s purposes. Corporately believers are the Church. The Church can be considered the Temple of God. Each believer is some aspect of that House. The relationship that you have with God, demonstrated in the way you live your life determines if your part of the house is in need of renovation.

Another word picture the scripture utilizes to convey this idea of a Church, of the people belonging to God, is the vineyard. The vineyard is where God places His people, the Church, to cultivate and harvest.
Proverbs 24:30-34 (MSG)
One day I walked by the field of an old lazybones, and then passed the vineyard of a lout; They were overgrown with weeds, thick with thistles, all the fences broken down. I took a long look and pondered what I saw; the fields preached me a sermon and I listened: "A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, with poverty as your permanent houseguest!"

There are multiple messages in this wise saying. Read it again, but this time consider yourself to be the vineyard, the Church. Thorns and weeds are sins of omission, when you know what was right but just didn’t do it. The fallen walls are because you have not put on the full armor of God. The scripture encourages us to Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes (Eph 6:11 (NIV).” When you fail to put on the full armor you are defenseless against the subtle spiritual attacks of the enemy. The nap, the day off is procrastination. You just never seem to get around to it. The result is spiritual poverty, you don’t live your life to the full, you don’t get free of debilitating habits, attachments and addictions. The Truth doesn’t fully set you free.
Let’s read the proverb again.
Proverbs 24:30-34 (NCV)
I passed by a lazy person’s field and by the vineyard of someone with no sense. Thorns had grown up everywhere. The ground was covered with weeds, and the stone walls had fallen down. I thought about what I had seen; I learned this lesson from what I saw. You sleep a little; you take a nap. You fold your hands and lie down to rest. Soon you will be as poor as if you had been robbed; you will have as little as if you had been held up.

Do you see yourself in that scripture? Do you need a remodel, a renovation, a revisioning of what your life can be? Good news for you then. God invests in us and bequests us with creativity to carry out renovations to repair and beautify, to put into our life into sync, creatively re-imaged, and imprinted with God’s unique design.

I have done several remodel projects at my home. Its starts with someone I love telling me something just isn’t right anymore. Something needs to be changed. I am not a skilled craftsman when it comes to framing a wall, putting in a tile, rerouting plumbing, installing drywall. I haven’t taken the time to acquire the skills. So I ask someone who does, to lead me on the project. To actually let me help so that I can learn. Without that master craftsman, my roof would be leaking, my pipes dripping, my electrical mis-wired, my pool green. When I realize something needs to get done I ask for help. It takes skill to take an already lived-in house, to diagnose its issues, check out its foundation, look at its potential, and make something new of it. It takes the green thumb to get the vineyard healthy and growing again. It takes more passion to re-imagine, re-model, and re-store than to start new. It takes knowing who you are in order to turn a “house” into a “home” based on the identity of its owner, God, and the uniqueness of its neighborhood, you.

I heard Calvary Chapel preacher Raul Reese say that the Christian church today is a mile wide but only an inch deep. Has the Church has lost its “mojo?” Has the Church lost its groove?  Is “the Disciple-Ship is sinking”? Look in the mirror and answer for yourself. If your spiritual life needs help, you have a Master Designer and Carpenter who will lead you in your restoration project. He won’t come in and do the job, He will come along side you and help you do the job. The Holy Spirit has the plans, He has the know-how, the right tools, the materials. You provide the need to, the elbow grease, the sweat equity.

Willpower wont work, I’ve tried.  Egoism always sabotages my good intentions. I want to make it easy on myself. I want the comfort zone. I’ll put up with the leaky faucet, the sticking bathroom door, maybe I’ll get to that paint job next weekend. The same goes in our spiritual life, the flesh centered upon self, the sin nature to do our own thing, in our own time, in our own way, self-centeredness that convinces us that we know what is best and good and right and just. Its this third sin problem the sin nature that convinces us to nap, to take the day off, to letting things slide.

A quick refresher on sin. Three major categories of sin. Original sin is estrangement in our relationship with God which causes us to be out of sync in all our relationships. This problem is taken care of when we believe in the reconciliation Jesus brings to us through his obedience. Actual sins are the things that we have done, either through omission or commission that have deterred, damaged or destroyed right relationships. This problem is taken care on the cross as Jesus death provides the forgiveness of sins. The third category is egoism. It egoism that subverts our best intentions. English translators of the Apostle Paul’s writings call it the sin nature, the sinful self, the flesh.

The way this problem is dealt with is you’ve got to see it. The Holy Spirit has to show you. Maybe this morning, you see you need the renovation, maybe this morning you see the vineyard is a mess, and you want things to be different. In fact you’ve been trying to make things different, you try to be diligent in your practice of the seven habit of a disciple. Your inconsistency and outright failures have pushed you to the point of giving up. The desire, excitement, passion, you need comes from outside and its planted inside and then transforms you from the inside out.  Seeing the problem, I ask God to instill in me the grace I need to change. Grace is the desire to be and the power to do. Suddenly there is spiritual power within to choose the right things and actually do them. In the church of the Nazarene we call this the second blessing. The first blessing being forgiveness of sin the second being breaking sins power in our life that it can no longer hijack our desires to put our house in order, to tend the Garden, to build the Church and make God’s mission our own. In Submission and consecration ask God to sanctify you wholly, ask God for that new heart.

Ezekiel 11:18-20 (MSG)
You'll come back and clean house, throw out all the rotten images and obscene idols. I'll give you a new heart. I'll put a new spirit in you. I'll cut out your stone heart and replace it with a red-blooded, firm-muscled heart. Then you'll obey my statutes and be careful to obey my commands. You'll be my people! I'll be your God!

I’ve prayed God help me to care about this Old House. Help me make it habitable for you.  We can infer from scripture that when we believe we become the home of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

I’ve prayed Father I see the problem, but, but, but the status quo, a million excuses, is convincing me to procrastinate on getting it done, so many other things seem more important. The spirit is willing the flesh is weak, I’ve got the right intentions but no follow through.
Romans 7:15 & 18-19 (NIV)
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. … For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Yes that’s the problem exactly. That’s what’s wrong.
I’ve prayed help me get my house in order. Suddenly I discovered I really get to choose. If I wanted to say yes to God and no to egoism I was victorious. Being tempted to sin I found I really could decide to overcome the temptation or choose to give into the temptation, I was empowered to make the choice. I was no longer a slave to sin. The power to be in control is the gift of this second blessing. No longer can I say the devil made me do it, when I sin, I am the responsible party, no one is to blame, no human condition can account for my free willful choice. I cash in on grace, the desire to be and the power to do what God wants, finding myself actually being obedient.   

As I am obedient, my house is repaired, remodeled, and my part of the Church is good, I am contributing in the production of the vineyard, I become a suitable dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.

In your minds eye, picture a house with many rooms. The house is your life and the rooms represent one aspect of your life. When you become a believer you get a good house. What’s inside most of the rooms is good, but some contain problems, some contain secrets and some contain sinful habits, attachments and addictions. Consider that one room in your life in which dwells a disobedience. That disobedience is something that has become a habit, and attachment or and addiction in your life. Could be alcohol, drugs, lying, stealing, gossip, some infidelity, pushing people away, whatever it is you know its not right, its not what God wants. Use that one area as your measure for work being done inside of you. God gives you the grace to be victorious over that stronghold of sin in your life, that room that desperately needs renovation, refurbishment. Ask for it and the grace to overcome will be yours. You will have the power  to choose obedience or disobedience.  You will have the power to tear down that stronghold, and with the Master Builders help, make that room beautiful.


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